If there’s one thing that experts in industries and sectors that include healthcare, business, and sports can agree on, it’s that sleep is one of the key factors to happiness, health, and success.
Did you know that estimates suggest that over 50 million people in the United States experience ongoing sleep problems? That’s one in five people who have trouble getting a restful and relaxing night’s sleep.
It’s no wonder many of us experience physical ailments, stress, depressed mood, and cognitive impairment. Without sleep, our bodies cannot function at their optimal capacity.
But it doesn’t have to be this way!
There are things you can do right now to help you calm down, relax, rest, and fall into a deep slumber – and you can do them without a prescription.
You’ll be amazed at the results by engaging in these three therapeutic activities daily.
Most doctors will recommend exercising daily.
When we exercise, our body temperature increases and then drops as we cool down after the workout. This decrease in body temperature signals to our brain that it’s time to sleep. In addition, regular physical activity reduces stress levels and anxiety, which are common causes of insomnia. According to a recent study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), moderate-intensity aerobic exercise regularly improves overall sleep quality compared with no or low physical activity levels. Another study published by the Sleep Foundation found that short bouts of mild-to-moderate intensity exercises such as walking or cycling helped participants fall asleep faster and experience deeper sleep cycles.
Any physical activity can help improve sleep quality, but some types may be more effective than others. According to the Sleep Foundation, moderate-intensity aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, or swimming are ideal for promoting good sleep. Other activities like yoga or tai chi that combine gentle movements with deep breathing techniques can also promote relaxation and relieve stress, which makes them great options for winding down before bed.
The timing of your workouts may affect how well you’ll be able to drift off at night. According to experts from the Sleep Foundation, exercising too close to bedtime could negatively affect your ability to fall asleep because it raises core body temperature when you need a drop in temperature before bed. So, avoid intense exercise an hour or two before bedtime. Instead, try slow-paced activities with slow, relaxing movements.
Meditation and Breathwork
With all of the stresses and the seemingly never-ending flow of information hitting our brains in the modern world, sometimes we need to turn the volume down a little bit. So close your eyes, take a deep breath, and meditate.
Meditation and breathwork are effective relaxation techniques that help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up refreshed.
Research studies have shown that regular meditation practice can significantly improve sleep quality in people with insomnia. For example, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness meditation helped older adults with moderate sleep disturbances fall asleep faster and experience fewer nighttime awakenings.
Meditation works by reducing stress levels, lowering blood pressure, slowing heart rate, and promoting a sense of calmness. It also increases melatonin production – a hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles – which helps you feel more relaxed at night.
Combine your meditation with deep breathing exercises, and you can fall into a deep and relaxing sleep. Deep breathing exercises stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest-and-digest functions. This system slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, reduces muscle tension, and calms the mind.
Several natural medicines can help calm your nerves and relax your body. They work by interacting with specific receptor sites and stimulating neurotransmitters in the central nervous system.
If you’re exercising and meditating, adding a powerful natural medicine can help seal the deal.
One of the latest clinically researched trends helping millions of people relax is cannabidiol, a concentrated compound extracted from the hemp plant. It is commercially available in the form of CBD oil and is offered as free samples by some manufacturers. One essential compound also extracted from hemp and believed to be responsible for the relaxation effects found in full spectrum CBD products is cannabinol, or CBN. Like CBD, it acts on endocannabinoid receptor sites in the central nervous system and stimulates numerous neurochemicals responsible for sleep. And like CBD, cannabinol can be taken as a concentrated CBN oil or a pure CBN concentrate powder. It should be taken 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime for the best sleep benefits.
Another centuries-old natural remedy to help improve rest is Valerian root. It can be taken as a stand-alone supplement or combined with other natural remedies like CBN. Valerian root contains several compounds that interact with specific receptors in the brain to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. One of these compounds is called valerenic acid, which increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. The GABA neurotransmitter helps regulate nerve activity and promotes feelings of calmness. By increasing GABA levels, valerenic acid can help induce sleep and improve overall sleep quality.
And if it’s sleep you need, then one of the most potent plants out there found to support deep relaxation is Kava Kava. It has been used traditionally as a sedative and anxiolytic agent in South Pacific island cultures for centuries. The active compounds in kava are called kavalactones. Like valerian root, they have been shown to positively affect brain chemistry by increasing neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels. Research has also suggested that certain kavalactones found in the root may act on other brain receptors associated with sleep promotion, such as dopamine D1 receptor agonists or histamine H1 antagonists.
Synergy For Sleep
It is recommended that you take an integrated approach to improving sleep with better lifestyle choices that include daily exercise, meditation and breathwork, and the addition of natural medicines like herbs and hemp extracts to your diet.
This powerful therapeutic approach will no doubt lead to increased relaxation, better sleep quality, and an overall improved mood on a daily basis.